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tv   Reel America Alaskas Silver Millions - 1936  CSPAN  July 21, 2018 10:00pm-10:32pm EDT

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knowledge has to be passed down through generations. if we don't pass it down, it gets lost forever. that our traditions are being passed on, because the next generation will, in and take over, so we want to make sure it is being passed down. ♪ [applause] our cities to her staff recently traveled to alaska to learn about its rich history. learn more about alaska and other stops on our to her on stour..org/cities t >>
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"a -- next on america," we introduce the regions of alaska, detailing the salmon fishing and canning industries. narrated by father hubbard. ♪ >> about 70 years ago in 1867,
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secretary of state william seward. alaska from russia for point $2 million. thousands of citizens protested, calling it a waste of public money. alaska became known as a seward's folly. today there is no man better qualified to give you a true picture of alaska than farther -- father bernard hubbard, an explorer who has spent over 10 years in our great northern territory. ago,r hubbard: 10 years with my loyal young college men i thoughtul dog, alaska was a worthless knob of land on top of america, where amidos lived in a close snow and ice. i was certainly surprised that it was anything but this. popular notions about alaska are
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for the most part all wrong. it is the least understood of any united states territory. its size, its expanse and its great variety are by no means comprehended. land no onethe knows. nhe best way to get a idea of the true size of alaska is to move it down to the united states. although only 1/5 as large as the united states and square miles, nevertheless alaska touches all four borders of our country. this will give you the wide --anse and spread about w wide expanse and spread of our great northern territory. ♪ the most important fact to bear in mind is this.
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alaska is divided into three distinct sections which are as different from one another as day is tonight. takes its name from the yukon river which flows through it. a line of latitude drawn eastward from the center of this section will touch the southern coast. we are not surprised to see in snow and icetion traversed only by dog teams in a subzero temperature that is a menace to life. the most grueling experience i ever had in alaska was mushing a dog team 1600 miles over the frozen yukon. the husky is man's most faithful companion and covering long distances. on the winterm trails, where the noble sled dog takes pride in his work.
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at home in his kennel he is equally eager to be of service. leader.my he saved my life more than once. on this exceptionally fine group of dogs i picked the ones i still use in my alaskan adventures. some of my eskimo friends are noting you where they live, in houses budding dugouts or even log cabins. they are educated and quite artistic. for garmentsterned shield them from the cold. eskimos a stay in this cold climate is on account of the abundance of food. a hook and a short length of line means a bountiful supper of od. they have teaming herds of reindeer imported from siberia
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years ago by the u.s. government. finding their home in the bering sea and an abundance of food in the winter snow, they have increased to the tens of thousands. this was the first heard of reindeer i ever saw. what impressed me the most was the see of moving horns -- the sea of moving horns. in this region nature stages its most spectacular spectacles. when the yukon's frozen it is a winter highway. when it breaks up, it is a death trap. mustbefore this breakup, i my dog team over these same chunks, now breaking up in chaos. ♪ secondo southward to the distinct section known as southeast alaska. very few realize how far south southeastern alaska is. sectionrawn from this
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directly eastward will touch of the british isles at exactly the same latitude. it may surprise you to know that the capital city of alaska,, juneau, is not a remote northern settlement but lies almost on the same line of latitude as the great city of london, and is almost as easy to get to. and climate and appearance, southeastern alaska is like maine, new hampshire and vermont. thaty seem hard to believe washington dc gets colder in winter than does juneau, the capital of alaska. what sold my heart for alaska was the first site of its main approach by water, the inside passage. whichmed channel along
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that'll -- along which vessels moved so peacefully among glaciers. now, myriad of violence, some large and others small but all beautiful, please the eye of the beholders. along the inside passage are alaska's first cities. this is juneau, the capital city with about 6000 inhabitants. the chief source of employment is one of the worlds greatest engineering projects, the famous gold mines. it makes this region a veritable promised land. government roads wind through ande forests and meadows, the one motoring along suddenly finds himself in a wonderful wonderful dairy
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country. when i first saw this scene, if iwasn't sure i was in alaska would have thought i was back home where i spent so many happy years. come downf waterfalls in the virgin forest. the natural beauty of this part of alaska equal is any scenic grandeur in the whole world. ♪ i am called the glacier priest on account of my research on glaciers in north america. nestled in the mountains of southeastern alaska are glaciers that make the largest ones in europe look small. alaskan glaciers move slowly to
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the sea. when they reach the sea, tremendous pressure exerted by millions of tons of ice causes them to break with the noise of thunder, and cracking walls of glacier ice float as icebergs. most people think all icebergs way, and to our surprise the biggest ones pop up suddenly from below the service -- below the surface. patients ands of waiting to get such spectacular -- patience and waiting to get such spectacular pictures. here's one i waited eight years to get.
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this is just another of the alaska,ng paradoxes of to hide these huge glaciers in the gentle southwestern section when one would expect to find them in the north. i will now take you to the alaskan peninsula and the aleutian islands, the most spectacular area of all, dotted with dozens of volcanoes and endless tundra. alaska, formy own here i spent many years of exciting adventure. on one side, warmed by the japanese currents, on the other, chilled by the arctic currents. these differing-temperatured
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inflowst water the weather of the entire hemisphere. cataclysmic corruption destroyed this mountain's plant and animal life. region bylored the land, sea and air in all seasons of the year. further north on the alaska peninsula is the largest active withr in the world, devastating abruption's that send steam and gas into the air. i made this great crater the scene of several years of exploration, and descended to bottom of these esteeming pits to discover new scientific secrets.
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♪ if in the spring you are able to arise above alaska in an airplane, you would see millions of baby salmon drifting downstream with the current after they are born. the waters ofh the bering sea they vanish completely somewhere in the specific -- somewhere in the pacific. no one knows where. in may, millions of full-grown salmon will together in it the greatpacific for their
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migration known to alaskans as the salmon run. many find their way to the fishing grounds of southeastern alaska and british columbia, but others reach the bering sea. when the salmon which of the gated fishermen finally enter freshwater streams, the streams in which they were born, then one of the great epic struggles of nature begins. day, week after week for hundreds and even thousands of miles they battled their way currents,gainst swift seeking quiet quarters where they may spawn. in the salt water of the ocean these fish were in the finest of condition. now in freshwater streams, they stop eating entirely, lose their beautiful silver color and take on brilliant hues of pink, red and purple, and they are saved from fishermen's nets for they are totally unfit for human consumption.
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some of the streams are so shallow they travel for days or weeks with their backs out of water, to see their species perpetuated even at the cost of their own lives. in their offspring will swim downstream and lose their way into the ocean. but the adult salmon fighting the swift current will never return, for as soon as the spawning is done, they died. self-preservation, the first law of nature, becomes the law of preservation of the species. as they fight their way upstream, a physical change takes place. overshot and under
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slung job with big teeth grows day by day. the powerful jaws allow them to dig holes in my, spots where they choose to lay their eggs. , no longeris sealed able to eat. underest occasionally some riverbank or in some eddiy. not anywhere, nor at their own seeming convenience, do they stop and spawn. drives themstinct on and unerringly they obey. if their eggs were deposited on the riverbed, the eggs would freeze. ice crystalss -- would pierce them like so many needles. they reach a spot like this where bubbling springs, out of -- gravel water coming
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gravel. water coming directly from a spring does not freeze in winter, and here the exit will be safe. when the eggs are finally laid and cared for, the salmon swim a little distance, and they hide the eggs from site. incubator until they hatch the following spring. complete thise to inspiring work nature has given them, the battle upstream is too much. they die on the way. the last act of this great tragedy is when the bond out salmon lie on the riverbank, dying that there species might live. then, seagulls, foxes and other creatures flock to the sea for the feast of the year, and soon dispose of these bond-out -- the spawned-out salmon.
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seward thought he had bought a land of gold, he had but it was really these of silver millions that made alaska so valuable to america and the world. each year from february to may, hundreds of men leave pacific and spread out on the coastlines of alaska, preparing for the salmon run to come, for it is during these great runs the salmon are caught by the fishermen. as soon as melting snow and ice permit, salmon boats like this one are driven to a strategic point where salmon have been plentiful in previous years. these traps which consist of a long, double row of piles, are the most effective and economical means of catching large numbers of fish at one time. between the piles strong nets are fixed, and then a matter of waiting, the salmon are running.
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the country swings into action. all of alaska becomes salmon conscious, and rightfully, for it means work for over 21,000 men. tenders are dispatched from canneries to the traps, which become filled suddenly with silver flashes by the thousands, magic.by there is nothing to keep these fish from swimming out after being caught. instinct not to turn back keeps thousands of salmon in the trap. the the salmon start to run canneries must operate at a terrific pace, 24 hours a day. the fish traps must be emptied of their flashing hordes at least once a day. tender hasnnery pulled alongside the trap, annette is lowered and soon the
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net is lowered and soon the wriggling mass is drawn into the ship. is only one ofng the methods used to catch millions of salmon. other fishermen in small boats armed with nets sweep the season where the salmon are known to be moving. the salmon run is short, lasting from the middle of may until the middle of august, and every means is taken to catch as many fish as possible. from the time the salmon are caught until they are canned and cooked, only 24 hours is allowed by law. many canneries only allow 12 hours for these operations to ensure the freshness and quality . some salmon traps are as much as 80 miles away from the cannery, truly there are no more courageous skippers found
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elsewhere on the seven seas. they end night at top speed they fog,e through grinding storms, sleet and rain along coastlines which abound with conditions rocks and more unfavorable to navigation than any place the world over. typicalproaching a cannery. -- aleutian the whistle sends seagulls into excitement or it for them, it is a dinner bell and the approach of a square meal. altering the season they flock to the canneries for the cleanings of the fish on which they feed. [seagulls] ♪
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once alongside the fish house, the tender crew loses no time transferring its cargo of freshly caught salmon. as soon as one tender is unloaded there is another to take its place, a boat from the open sea or an independent fishermen with his catch. no human hands touch the fish. a mechanical elevator moves them rapidly into the fish house. ♪ human cuts offt the heads and tails, cleans and in some cases molds the fish to .it the cans
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from the fish house, the salmon travel and clear spring water to the canning house. ♪ as thousands of fish are cleaned and delivered to the canning house our after hour, there must imprisonnds of cans to
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the flavor for which alaskan salmon are known. machines such as this one have been developed to reform the cans, attach and seal the bottom, and deliver them in rapid succession to the canning house nearby. through years during which the salmon industry was growing in alaska, can manufacturers found advantageous to ship
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partially formed cans to the fisheries. for a time, the cans were made entirely by hand at the canneries, fashioned from 10, but this method is now little used. idea of shipping factory made cans was developed by manufacturers and millions of these are shipped to alaska when you are -- where they are completed at the canneries. canning machines are no less a wonder. the salmon are placed on a knivesr, sharp cut them into sections and they disappear into the depths of the machine. when you see them again they emerge from an opening, each can containing the proper weight of fish. there is even a device that rejects cans that are underweight. the cans proceed to another machine called the clincher and
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moving at the amazing speed of 140 cans a minute, the clincher puts the tops of the cans in place automatically. ♪ next along through of travel is the vacuum sealing machine. this receives the cans with clenched -- with clenched covers, sucks all the air out and seals the cans hermetically. without its benefits in sealing cans so no air can reach the betent, no food could preserved in this manner. rolling forward the cans pastor a washing machine. pass through a washing machine. then they are scooped up and tray. on a
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huge, cap like steam cookers tray ready to receive the loads of freshly-canned salmon. four one hour and a half, the salmon cook under heavy steam pressure.
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all day and night during the season, the canneries a beehive of activity. canning andleaning, cooking of various fridays of salmon. there are even floating canneries, ships that are equipped with canning machinery, traveling from place to place following the fish. ♪ constant inspection eliminates the slightest leak and any can. cans properly sealed container no air, and this ensures.
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he am the salmon. usually in 12 short hours, salmon fresh from the sea are sealed fresh in the can and set out to cool. modern labeling machines make quick work of their task. ofre are several varieties salmon and most canneries have a special label for each brand. you may wonder how the labelers can distinguish the several varieties. the answer is simple. the salmon are canned in vacuums one variety at a time. as the cans passed through the clinching machine, a special
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marking for each variety is stamped on the cover of each can and does these labelers have note on the right labels on the right cans. -- each can, and thus these no troubleve attaching the right labels to the right cans. i still find many people who think alaska was a useless acquisition. each year the original purchase price of alaska has come out of the great 500 90,000 miles of territory in gold output alone. the furs of alaska have yielded many, farming and dairy are now competing. inexhaustiblest deposits of coal, oil, sulfur, iron, copper and other metals and minerals worth millions.
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its forests would supply the world indefinitely with pulp. but even if alaska had none of these resources, it would have been worth its price merely for its education, for the salmon industry grows each year. and canned salmon alone, several purchase -- several times the purchase price of the territory. but seward'sfolly, far-cited wisdom. far-sighted wisdom. ♪ on "reel america come, we

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